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Jul 18, 2003

How to Get on TechTV

SUMMARY: The TechTV team produce two different shows you can get on -- Tech Live with 600,000 viewers and Fresh Gear with 375,000 viewers. Plus, there's a ripple effect - a lot of other press watch the shows. Find out how to pitch yourself as a guest for the shows, and get some tips on how to not screw up once you're
on air.
Carolyn Kane
Tech Live and Fresh Gear/TechTV

-> Viewers in June 2003
Tech Live: 600,000
Fresh Gear: 375,000

-> Kane's background

Carolyn Kane was news director for local news stations in Tucson and Columbus, Ohio, before coming to TechTV two years ago. She loves storytelling, especially about interesting topics, and that's why she likes technology (as we keep hearing, people in the tech field love it because it's constantly changing).

But as a working mother of two, what she likes best about
technology are the things that make her life easier. (She mourns the loss of the grocery store that delivered to her house when she lived in Connecticut ....)

-> Current coverage

Kane produces two shows and "a boatload" of specials (20 or more a year).

Tech Live, produced six days a week and aired four times a day, covers general technology news. Fresh Gear, produced once a week and aired eight times a day Monday through Friday and five times on weekends, focuses on products, gadgets, and gear.

The specials are geared toward special events -- blockbuster
movies using cool technology, the "search for ET" and the
technology behind it, etc.

The shows reach a broad range of viewers, from the technology expert to the average citizen. "It's for both techies and people," says Kane. "We're demystifying the word technology. Our job is to explain how it's helpful."

In fact, Kane describes TechTV as a lifestyle channel. Sounds strange until Kane describes it this way: developments in biotechnology can be fascinating, but what is there to look at? People in white lab coats, generic stuff -- boring.

Instead, the shows focus on who will ultimately use the
technology. "Show me how the development goes from here to here to here and then this boy takes this pill and eureka, he used to have these problems and now he doesn't anymore!" she says. "I 'get' that, whether I'm in technology or the public."

-> How to pitch Kane and her staff

Email show ideas to:

Features Producer Brandon Mercer at
Assignment Editor Monet Ortega at
Fresh Gear Producer Brendan Moran at
or, Carolyn herself at

Pitch any or all of them, Kane says. Send it to everyone and
someone will be bound to read it.

On the other hand, Brandon and Monet are the first line of
defense, she says. "They run the desk and are the people who will know enough to alert someone that this is good for your show." They can help you target your pitch to the right person.

Note: unlike almost every other source we've spoken to, Kane
likes to have attachments right there rather than having to ask for it. That may be because their system takes bigger files than most, she says.

-> What Kane looks for in a story pitch

Kane doesn't want technology innovations alone. She wants to know who's using it and how can it revolutionize things.

She offered 5 tips on putting together a pitch.

1) Think through all applications of an invention.
Maybe you've got an invention that does something cool already. Kane also wants to know what it *could* do.

She uses the example of a product police were using to stop
crowds, a sonic noise so loud it stopped you in your tracks. But get this: soon Coke machines will use that technology so that when a person walks by, they'll hear the sound of a soda can opening.

"Only the person walking by will hear it," Kane says. "The person behind you wouldn't, until he walked by it, too. Those are the ideas we're looking for."

2) Add people and tell a story.
Focus on inanimate objects for too long and your audience falls asleep. Bring in people.

"If it's a new system for cars or something, get me in the car, show me the people you're testing it with," she says.

One recent story focused on a car built to email the mechanic to tell him when it's having a problem. But the story went on to show how the car owner ended up using the car's networked connections to find the car when it got stolen.

3) Focus on kids.
Anything about making life safer for kids, or that kids would enjoy, is always a good bet.

She's done a lot of stories on spyware on computers. The
interesting thing about spyware, she says, is that kids find it, so the story could focus on secret spyware that kids can't find.

4) Bring it to a consumer level.
Even if a product is invented for companies to use, eventually it will make something easier for someone, says Kane.

Like the radio identification tags that companies are putting on their products to help manage their supply chains.

"You might think that doesn't affect you personally," Kane says, "but now clerks know electronically that there's only two Dial soaps on the shelf." Unstocked shelves will no longer be a problem.

Take it a step further: if a store has your credit card, and all products have the tags, in theory you wouldn't even have to go through the checkout anymore. "You just put it in your cart and you're done."

If it's a system that helps a company, great -- but show her how it trickles down to affect the consumer, too.

5) Craft it as you would a news release.
Bottom-line the story and then go into the details. Let her know if you have pictures or video.

-> Pet peeves

Kane sounds pretty laid back; we couldn't really get any pet
peeves out of her. So, you can call these a couple of minor

1) They move at such a fast pace that if a pitch is accepted and they call back to say they want to do the story, you should be available. (But she adds, nicely, that of course, sometimes things happen and everyone understands that.)

2) Follow up once, and then stop. They hold onto things, she
says, since often something comes up and a story they didn't care about a month ago is now timely. If they find that they can use your story, they'll call you.

-> Where you can meet Kane

She goes to CES and COMDEX. She's also "always here for lunch."

-> And if you do get on a TechTV show

While Kane's shows don't often do interviews, some of the other shows on TechTV do (and if your pitch is right for one of them, Kane's staff will pass them along).

Here are some quick tips on how not to sound like an idiot:

First, it helps if you're not naturally an idiot, Kane says,

But all joking aside, she acknowledges that being on TV is
intimidating. The best way to be prepared is to rehearse. "Know what the point is you want to make and work that through. Have someone practice with you."

Then, if you're nervous, debrief with the talent and host. "Our anchors are very good about that. They want people to look good," Kane says.

For information on the other shows on TechTV, go to

See Also:

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